That's always interesting, whether you agree with him or not. Jeff Weiss of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal sits down this issue for a Q-and-A with the new editor of the Daily News, who is 64 and took over last month. For twenty years, the interview opener says, "it has been Kaye’s mission to chronicle the everyday struggles of the 1.4 million men and women that live in the San Fernando Valley. In his previous stint as managing editor, Kaye earned a reputation as an uncompromising voice that championed the causes of secession and the middle-class, while railing against a downtown bureaucracy, often seen as perpetually neglecting the Valley. He plans to use his resources to continue to hold City Hall accountable, while attempting to illuminate the stories and truths of the Valley community."
In the interview, Kaye praises his predecessor David Butler, says the L.A. Times has forsaken the Valley, and remarks that "America is in a profound political crisis at all levels." He promises experimentation at the Daily News, but offers no details about blogs or other rumored moves. The story might be subscriber-only (I can't tell on this computer) but here are some excerpts:
Question: What do you feel are the major issues that need to be addressed in the local business community?
Answer: The most fundamental issue is the business climate of Los Angeles. We’re surrounded by cities that are thriving economically: Calabasas, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Burbank, Glendale, all of which are centered around the Valley, and all of them have business climates that are healthier than Los Angeles.’
For the last 30 or 40 years, Los Angeles has gone after businesses, raising taxes while providing worse and worse services. The challenge as a newspaper is to define the issues, keep the feet of city hall on the fire and to stand for change.
Q: In the September 2002 issue of Los Angeles magazine, you were quoted as saying, “the wealth of the community is being taken downtown and stuffed into the pockets of public employees, influence peddlers, contractors, politicians and bureaucrats.” In this post-secession environment, do you feel this statement is still valid? And if so, how do you believe the Daily News can help to change this environment?
A: It is still valid. Nothing has changed except city hall is under federal and district attorney investigations. Whether they lead to prosecutions or not, the fact is that there’s enough evidence to warrant elaborate two-year investigations. The election and defeat of a one-term mayor was symbolic of the public’s rejection of business as usual.
We continue to pump money into downtown. There’s the Grand Avenue billion dollar fantasy and the Staples Center entertainment district and a hotel that the public is going to pay Hilton to operate for us with huge subsidies. They are all examples of building the downtown without re-payment.
Q: The newspaper business as a whole has experienced a great deal of turbulence of late. In the most recent period, the Los Angeles Times registered its steepest circulation declines in 34 years, and many other newspapers registered similar declines. The Daily News on the other hand, registered a .09 percent increase. Why do you think this was, and how do you plan to sustain this growth?
A: We have real support from the community from our Valley News and Green Sheet days. The Daily News is liked by the people in the Valley and the areas around it. We stand up for them and speak their language.
It’s a very challenging time for everybody in the newspaper industry today. Newspapers have a unique set of problems. However, you’d be hard pressed to find very few industries in America that aren’t struggling right now. There are some fundamental changes taking place.
Our challenge is to become more useful and more interesting. The Times’ situation is like most papers that have something like a monopoly or domination in a market. They have the most trouble, because they’re the most self-indulgent.